Aggies win both games at Houston Baptist Husky Classic

The UC Davis women’s basketball team didn’t spend Thanksgiving break at home this past week, but will return to school with much to be thankful for.

The Aggies traveled to Texas to participate in the Houston Baptist Husky Classic for the two-day tournament. UC Davis faced off with Navy and then Houston Baptist and walked away with two wins.

Senior Cortney French put down 23 points in the first game and then 16 in the second to earn herself the Husky Classic Tournament MVP honor. Sophomore Sydnee Fipps also had strong performances in both games and was named to the All-Tournament team.

With the two wins this weekend, the Aggies evened their record on the season to 2-2.

Friday — UC Davis 66, Navy 63 (OT)

UC Davis got its first win of the season on Friday when it took down Navy in an overtime thriller at Sharp Gym in Houston.

French, in her first game of the season, went eight for 11 from the field, including 5-7 from beyond the three-point arc to score more than one-third of the Aggies’ points.

UC Davis went into halftime trailing the Midshipmen 35-31 after exchanging blows throughout the first half.

Having entered the break with the lead, Navy then began the second half by adding to their lead, which got to as big as 10 points with just under five minutes to play.

The Aggies, however, never let the game slip out of reach and clawed back whenever the Midshipmen seemed to pull away, outscoring Navy 28-24 in the second half.

“We had really good defensive energy and applied more pressure that gave them problems in the second half,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “The key was defensive boards, because we gave up way too many offensive rebounds in the first half.”

The game came down to the wire, with the Aggies trailing with only six seconds remaining. French got a dish from senior Blair Shinoda and drained a clutch three to send the game into overtime at an even score of 59-59.

With the momentum clearly on their side, UC Davis completed the comeback in overtime and finished off the Midshipmen 66-63 with seven free-throws in the extra period.

“We focused on our half court trap, paying attention to steals and applying pressure,” Gross said. “This is a defense, where if you can do that, you create points on the other side, and our defense created our offense against Navy.”

Saturday — UC Davis 77, Houston Baptist 64

The Aggies’ second game of the weekend involved a little less stress, thanks to Fipps and French, who put up five of the game’s six points to give UC Davis a lead they never relinquished.

Fipps’ three-pointer 12 seconds into the game set the tone for the Aggies, who proved to be too much for host Houston Baptist in the final game of the tournament.

The 28 points by Fipps — a career-high for her — led the Aggies, and was supplemented by French’s 16.

“Sydnee can score in so many different ways, and she’s had big numbers since the first game,” Gross said. “She does whatever the team needs from her and she was phenomenal all weekend.”

The Aggies forced 21 turnovers and had 33 points off those defensive plays, following the game against Navy in which they had 28 points off turnovers.

“We felt like we had a size advantage, and we tried to get active to create turnovers,” Gross said. “We’re getting better at our defense and we have a lot of players whose roles [have] increased significantly on court.”

Freshman Celia Marfone scored 10 points in the first game and earned a starting spot in the second game.

For her clutch play and 39 points over the two games, French was named the Husky Classic Tournament MVP.

“Against Navy, Cortney hit a three to send us into overtime, but Blair set up the play and executed it perfectly,” Gross said. “Cortney brings so many intangibles to the court and is such an offensive threat, but this is a total team effort, and as people get more comfortable with their role and everyone contributes, we can only get better.”

MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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